Posted February 7, 2007 5:20 pm by with 0 comments

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Allurent, Inc. has released its “Holiday Shopping: Online Customer Experience Survey.” Their main finding is:

The survey revealed that a growing number of consumers (41% in 2006 compared to 28% in 2005) said a frustrating online experience would make them less likely to shop at that retailer’s physical store. And 59% reported that when they have a frustrating shopping experience online, it negatively impacts their overall opinion of the retailer/brand. In 2005, this number was 55%. The percentage of consumers who said a frustrating shopping experience online makes them less likely to shop at the retailer’s physical store remained at an overwhelming 82%, the same as 2005. [sic]

Based on last year’s study, I believe the last sentence should read, “The percentage of consumers who said a frustrating shopping experience online makes them less likely to return to the retailer’s website remained at an overwhelming 82%, the same as 2005.”

While these are nice numbers to have, they’re not very helpful to most Internet marketers and etailers. Despite what customers may believe, etailers aren’t trying to give them poor user experiences, online or off (*cough* Wal-Mart, your video download page’s CSS is still broken in Firefox! It’s been a whole day!).

Luckily, Allurent adds some more specific advice on improving customer experiences—complete with data to back it up. Here are the top features that piqued respondents’ interest:

  • 74% would like a popup window for product details, including info on inventory availability.
  • 70% would like to add an item to their carts without leaving the current page
  • 68% would like to “feel” merchandise with better imagery, descriptions and details. (Smell-o-vision, anyone?)
  • 64% would like a single checkout page to enter all info.
  • 47% would like to “mix and match” product images together on one page to see if they go together.

Most of these features are already possible through JavaScript-based shopping carts and the like. Some of them, however, are a little more difficult: how can someone truly “feel” merchandise through a computer screen? While I prefer shopping online, there are some things that I know have to be bought in person—or with blind faith.

Allurent ends with a stat that makes it sounds like the overall online shopping experience isn’t going so badly after all: 53% bought more holiday gifts online in 2005 than 2006, and 66% percent plan to shop online more for 2007. Etailers, start your engines (and work on your shopping carts) for this year’s holiday season.